Christians take to streets after Taliban suicide attack killed 15

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Minority Christians in Pakistan have blocked roads and pelted police with stones in the eastern city of Lahore.

The protests came a day after Taliban suicide bombers killed 15 people as they targeted two churches in the city – the latest attack against religious minorities in this increasingly fractured country. Sunday’s twin bombings struck in quick succession in the Christian neighbourhood of Youhanabad during morning services. The bombers detonated their suicide vests outside the two churches, about 600 metres apart. At least 70 people were wounded in the attacks.

After the attacks, angry Christian mobs blocked the highway, ransacked bus terminals and burned two people to death who they suspected of being involved in the attacks.

Along with Lahore, Christians also blocked roads in the eastern cities of Faisalabad, Sargodha and Gujranwala.

In Lahore, they blocked a major highway that runs near the two attacked churches and forced public transport services to shut down, said police officer Bilal Ahmad.

Later, an angry Christian mob pelted the police with stones and smashed police cars and other vehicles, according to Rana Sanaullah of the ruling PML-N party. He said officers were trying to calm the protesters and get them to disperse.

Lahore’s police Deputy Inspector General Haider Ashraf told Pakistani Geo News TV that his men were “showing restraint”.

The TV aired footage showing a car speeding away after hitting some protesters who were trying to block it. Dep Insp Ashraf said he had no information what had happened to those hit by the car.

Christian schools remained closed as prayer services and funerals for the bombing victims got under way, said government minister and Christian community leader Kamran Michael.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denounced the twin church attacks as an “inhuman act of terrorism” and said it reflected the militants “frustration” in the face of a stepped-up military operation against them.

Last June, Pakistan launched a major operation to rout militants from their strongholds and has claimed success in the offensive.